The energy world is marveling today at news that ExxonMobil's recent discovery in the Gulf of Mexico could contain up to a billion barrels of oil.
"The only thing that surprised the energy industry more than Exxon Mobil Corp.'s mammoth oil find in the Gulf of Mexico is that it kept its size quiet for so long," the Wall Street Journal said.
The company had announced a major find called the Julia field in 2008, but the massive size of it did not become known until ExxonMobil sued the U.S. government over its decision to cancel the company's leases.
In the suit, ExxonMobil says it and its partner Statoil "have expended hundreds of millions of dollars and years of work" developing the find "and several billion barrels of oil in place have been identified."
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It was the "several billion" that caught people's eyes, with words like "mammoth" being tossed around.
We don't proclaim to be any kind of oil use expert, but the U.S. uses about 18.7 million barrels of oil every day. That's half a billion barrels every month.
Throw in Europe, China and Japan and it's 45 million barrels a day, and that doesn't take very long to get to "several billions."
The U.S. is arguing, by the way, that ExxonMobil's leases have expired because the company is sitting on the leases instead of developing them. They're also making some vague claims about safety and such, but this is more about getting that oil out of the ground than it is about protecting the environment.